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CrisisWatch Database

Region / country

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809 results found
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Venezuela

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

New opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance-dominated National Assembly (AN) sworn in 5 Jan amid protests and tight security. Leader of Democratic Action Henry Ramos Allup elected to chair parliament for twelve months; Julio Borges of Justice First (PJ) named head of MUD’s parliamentary fraction. Supreme Court (TSJ) 4 Jan ruled four MPs representing Amazonas state, including three MUD MPs, could not be sworn in due to legal challenge over alleged vote-buying, mounted late-Dec by ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV). MUD’s lawyers said injunction unenforceable; swearing-in of the three MUD MPs went ahead 6 Jan. In response, TSJ declared all AN’s decisions null and void until move reversed; former parliamentary chairman and PSUV VP Diosdado Cabello argued TSJ could assume legislative functions. Organization of American States (OAS) Sec Gen Luis Almagro 12 Jan published open letter criticising use of TSJ to curb parliament. In face of looming constitutional clash, Ramos and newly-appointed VP Aristóbulo Isturiz reached agreement 13 Jan with three MPs, who agreed to not take seats pending resolution of case. President Maduro 10 Jan presented “state of the union” address to parliament following 7 Jan cabinet reshuffle in which Isturiz replaced VP Jorge Arreaza, and two ministers with close ties to Cabello were removed, including his brother, industry minister José David Cabello. Maduro 15 Jan issued economic emergency decree, giving president broad powers to evade budget scrutiny, seize private sector assets and amend regulations; AN rejected decree 22 Jan. Economic crisis continued to worsen: Venezuelan crude oil reached lowest value in twelve years mid-Jan at US$24 a barrel; central bank released economic figures for first time in two years, revealing 7.1% drop in GDP annual inflation rate by Sept of over 140%.

Haiti

  |  1 Feb 2016

Deteriorated

Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) 22 Jan announced second postponement of presidential run-off election, originally planned 24 Jan, amid growing concern over escalating violence and continued disagreement over validity of Aug/Oct legislative and presidential elections, and series of violent protests by opposition supporters demanding postponement. International community, including UNSG Ban, EU observer missions and Organization of American States (OAS) 23 Jan expressed concern over worsening instability; urged govt and opposition to reach agreement to overcome electoral impasse. Opposition candidate Jude Célestin reiterated refusal to engage in dialogue unless Aug and Oct elections – both marred by violence and allegations of fraud – are declared invalid. Govt-backed candidate Jovenel Moise continued to campaign, called for results to be respected. President Martelly 27 Jan announced replacement of all CEP members. OAS 27 Jan authorised special mission to assist with resolution of stalemate; opposition supporters protested OAS involvement, claimed it may help Martelly remain in power beyond constitutionally mandated 7 Feb departure date. Parliament returned 11 Jan after year-long absence, marking official end to Martelly’s one-man rule.

Guatemala

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

President Morales inaugurated 14 Jan; in first speech expressed support for continued investigations against corruption by Public Ministry and International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Morales 14 Jan appointed former attorney general’s office General Secretary, Francisco Rivas, as minister of govt. Authorities 6 Jan arrested eighteen former high-level military officers: fourteen suspected of massive rights violations and four others for disappearance of a child during civil war in 1980s. Those arrested include Edgar Ovalle Maldonado, President Morales’ right-hand man during campaign and expected leader of party’s legislative group in Congress, and César Augusto Cabrera Mejía, initially considered for minister of govt position. Ombudsman late Dec called on govt to fulfil 1996 peace accords; said army’s continued presence in internal security issues contravenes civilian character of security apparatus.

Colombia

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Peace talks between govt and FARC resumed 12 Jan; parties 22 Jan agreed on creation of “executive commission” to make decisions over final drafting of pending agreements in attempt to speed up last stage of negotiations. FARC 13 Jan publicly expressed doubt over possibility of meeting 23 March deadline for final agreement. Govt and FARC 19 Jan issued joint statement on creation of three-party mechanism for verification of disarmament and bilateral ceasefire; would include govt, FARC and UN political mission made up of observers from Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) member states. UNSC 26 Jan unanimously accepted govt and FARC formal request for creation of political mission; mission would be unarmed and have one-year mandate. ELN violence continued despite late-Dec statement by top ELN commander Nicolas Bautista, alias Gabino, that peace agenda with govt had been finalised: clashes with security forces reported 10 Jan in Catatumbo, two soldiers killed.

Mexico

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Marines 8 Jan arrested Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán in town of Los Mochis, Sinaloa state, following his July 2015 escape from maximum security prison. Officials 22 Jan said legal process underway to extradite Guzmán to U.S., where he faces drug and murder charges. Violence and kidnappings in Guerrero state persisted: gunmen 9 Jan attacked group in Arcelia, two killed and nineteen kidnapped; gunmen 11 Jan attacked school in Ajuchitlán, four teachers and director kidnapped. Authorities 15 Jan said 21 victims had been released, two died. Gunmen 2 Jan killed Temixco Mayor Gisala Mota Ocampo in Morelos state, hours after she took office; state officials blamed “Los Rojos” gang operating in neighbouring Guerrero, with whom she allegedly refused to make a deal. Police 31 Jan arrested 24 members of Sinaloa drug cartel in city of Sonoyta, Sonora state during joint border operation with U.S. Spanish police 15 Jan arrested former governor and ex-president of ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Humberto Moreira, who faces charges of money laundering and embezzlement in U.S.

Venezuela

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Parliamentary elections held 6 Dec; opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) won 112 of 167 seats, giving party two-thirds “super-majority”, control of National Assembly (AN) for first time in fifteen years. Ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) won only seven of 24 states. President Maduro same day admitted defeat, attributed loss to “economic war” he claims is being waged against him by opposition and foreign allies. Govt later claimed fraud and vote-buying by opposition: PSUV campaign chief Jorge Rodríguez 16 Dec broadcast alleged recording of official of opposition-led Amazonas state govt admitting vote-buying. Maduro 15 Dec vowed not to allow “electoral coup” and repeated threat to take to streets to resist decisions by new parliament. Supreme Court 31 Dec suspended inauguration of three MUD MPs following legal challenge from ruling PSUV; suspension removes MUD’s “super-majority”; opposition same day called move “judicial coup”. Outgoing AN 23 Dec appointed thirteen Supreme Court (TSJ) justices, with aim to prevent opposition gaining control of TSJ; 15 Dec installed “National Communal Parliament” in legislative chamber formerly occupied by Senate. Body appears to be parallel legislature; opposition downplayed move as “show”. MUD said new AN to begin work 5 Jan, first tasks including amnesty for political prisoners, and “social” legislation. Nephews of First Lady Cilia Flores, accused in Nov of drug trafficking by U.S. authorities, 17 Dec pleaded not guilty in U.S. federal court to charges of attempt to smuggle cocaine to U.S. through Haiti and Honduras. Reuters 15 Dec reported head of National Guard, Gen. Néstor Reverol and another general would be indicted on charges of drug trafficking; no official confirmation.

Mexico

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Prosecutors in Guerrero state 15 Dec reported discovery of some seventeen bodies in ravine. Govt early-Dec deployed about 200 additional police to Tierra Caliente region in NW Guerrero in attempt to control rising violence. Group of experts appointed by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to review investigation into Sept 2014 student disappearance 7 Dec said satellite photos appear to contradict prosecutors’ claim that bodies of missing students were incinerated at municipal dump. Court 31 Dec charged Cesar Penaloza Santana, former mayor of Cocula town (Jalisco state) linked to students’ disappearance, of ties to organised crime. President Peña Nieto 14 Dec sent legislation to Senate to harmonise and toughen sanctions for crime of disappearance and torture; proposal would establish national protocols requiring police and other officials to mobilise searches within hours of reported disappearance. Govt 22 Dec issued first licenses permitting cultivation and possession of marijuana for personal use; only four plaintiffs who won favourable Supreme Court ruling eligible for permits.

Haiti

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Provisional Electoral Commission (CEP) 21 Dec pushed back second round of presidential elections, originally scheduled for 27 Dec; said it was awaiting results of electoral process audit. President Martelly 1 Jan said presidential run-off scheduled for 17 Jan. Postponement followed PM Evans Paul’s 17 Dec call for creation of independent electoral commission to “guarantee credibility of process” amid uncertainty over allegations of massive fraud during Oct first round of presidential and legislative elections; opposition rejected initial proposal stating it fails to resolve post-electoral impasse. Senate 16 Dec asked outgoing President Martelly to suspend publication of final election results until independent commission can be mounted to audit vote; CEP 19 Dec published final results of 9 Aug legislative elections, triggering violence and vandalism in some five states, one protester reportedly killed. Alliance of eight former presidential candidates 15 Dec sent letter to CEP reiterating demands to resolve political crisis.

Guatemala

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Public Ministry 9 Dec presented formal charges against former President Pérez Molina and former VP Baldetti for illicit association, customs fraud and bribery. Pérez Molina 15 Dec claimed innocence, blamed U.S. saying International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) was instrument of Washington. President-elect Jimmy Morales 14 Dec postponed for second time announcement of future cabinet, said names would only be public after his inauguration 14 Jan. Two Costa Rican CICIG prosecutors resigned in Nov to join private law firm reportedly financed by political operative with links to efforts to interfere in judicial selection process on behalf of Pérez Molina. Prison riot broke out between rival gang members late-Nov in Escuintla, south of Guatemala City; some seventeen inmates killed.

Colombia

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Progress continued in govt-FARC peace talks: agreement on “victims” announced 15 Dec outlining several victim-centred mechanisms tasked with “finding truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition in context of conflict”. Agreement confirms those responsible for most serious crimes would be prosecuted under special jurisdiction; amnesty law to be passed for political and other connected crimes. Truth commission, special mechanism to search for disappeared and set of undetermined reparations measures will complement transitional justice institutions. Human Rights Watch 22 Dec issued statement strongly criticising agreement. Further negotiations will address two outstanding issues: end of conflict measures (DDR), and verification, implementation and ratification of peace agreement. President Santos 16 Dec pushed back bilateral ceasefire date, originally planned to begin same day, after “end of conflict” agenda points not resolved. Govt negotiator Jorge Enrique Mora 1 Dec rejected FARC proposal for special areas “Terrepaz” where insurgents can formally give up their arms. Choice of mechanism to confirm peace agreement remains contentious: Congress 14 Dec approved govt-supported bill for plebiscite on ratification of peace, as FARC reiterated need for constituent assembly. National Liberation Army (ELN) top commander Antonio García 9 Dec signalled willingness to fully commit to peace during interview amid ongoing exploratory ELN talks with govt; Ombudsman’s office 7 Dec warned of increased ELN violence in Pacific region.

Mexico

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Federal investigators early-Nov reportedly found five bodies in three unmarked graves near Carrizalillo, Guerrero state, where criminal gangs compete for control of extortion and kidnapping rackets. Discovery follows interior minister’s 27 Oct announcement on new security strategy for Guerrero state, including new anti-kidnapping unit for Acapulco and construction of highway connecting coast to isolated states with strong criminal activity. “Narcomanta” (narco banner) draped from pedestrian bridge over highway in Tlalpan borough of Mexico City 6 Nov threatening more “hangings” if police did not stop protecting rival criminal groups, amid fears powerful criminal groups may now be operating in capital. Supreme Court criminal chamber 4 Nov ruled individuals should be allowed to grow and distribute marijuana for personal use; govt said it will respect ruling, called for national debate on drug use.

Haiti

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Provisional Electoral Commission (CEP) 5 Nov announced results of first round of 25 Oct presidential elections, indicating likely run-off between govt-backed candidate Jovenel Moise of ruling Parti Haitien Tet Kale (PHTK) and Jude Célestine of opposition League for Progress and Haitian Emancipation (LAPEH). Célestine 9 Nov rejected preliminary results following allegations of ballot stuffing and corruption by various observers. CEP member Jaccéus Joseph 12 Nov stated refusal to sign preliminary results, citing doubts over their credibility. Opposition parties, several NGOs and student associations called for anti-corruption protests 11 Nov. Protests put down with violence 19 Nov leaving one dead, opposition presidential candidates Senator Steven Benoit and former Senator Moise Jean-Charles accused police of targeting them with rubber bullets and tear gas; presidential candidate Jean-Henry Ceant same day accused police of intimidation and harassment. CEP 17 Nov rebuffed suggestion by PM Evans Paul for independent verification of vote count; 18 Nov dismissed formal complaints on results launched by former presidential candidates. CEP 26 Nov announced campaigning and elections will go ahead, despite mounting violence.

Venezuela

  |  1 Dec 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Political tensions and violence increased ahead of 6 Dec parliamentary elections: local opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance political leader Luis Manuel Díaz murdered 25 Nov during campaign event, one of several campaign incidents involving firearms and activists allegedly from President Maduro’s ruling PSUV. Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori accused govt of attempting to murder her, alleging sabotage of plane she had been traveling in. Two nephews of First Lady Cilia Flores arrested in Haiti 10 Nov on drug-trafficking charges for allegedly attempting to export 800kgs of cocaine to U.S.; National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello 16 Nov claimed U.S. had “kidnapped” the two, citing intention to “damage the parliamentary election campaign and the revolution”. Case appeared to contribute to damaging govt campaign ahead of elections: latest mid-Nov poll showed 30-point lead for MUD. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro outlined concerns over unfair election conditions in 10 Nov letter to head of electoral authority (CNE), noting govt’s use of state resources for campaigning, ban and imprisonment of opposition political leaders, MUD’s lack of access to media and state of emergency in constituencies along Colombian border; govt dismissed accusations. UNASUR election “accompaniment” mission formally constituted 18 Nov in Caracas, amid continued doubts expressed by Brazil’s and Chile’s election authorities, which declined to take part.

Guatemala

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), whose mandate has been extended for two years, presented eighth annual report at 13 Nov event attended by acting President Maldonado Aguirre, President-elect Jimmy Morales, head of Supreme Court and attorney general. CICIG commissioner called for additional funding for justice system noting prosecutors are present in only 10% of municipalities. Mandate extension follows series of high-profile arrests throughout the year of political figures, including former President Pérez Molina, for alleged involvement in customs fraud scheme.

Colombia

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Following landmark agreements on transitional justice and bilateral efforts to find disappeared victims of conflict, govt 22 Nov approved legal pardons for 30 FARC guerrillas as part of “measures of confidence”; also offered to study 106 additional cases of FARC members with health problems to provide care. FARC 25 Nov agreed to proposal for uninterrupted negotiations under lockdown in order to accelerate speed of peace process. FARC negotiators 10 Nov expressed commitment to bilateral ceasefire, promised to stop recruiting fighters and purchase of arms. President Santos 18 Nov received support from UNSC permanent members for UN monitoring and verification mission for ceasefire. 11 Nov poll showed improved public perception of peace process, with 69% supporting negotiations, up from 60% in Aug, and 53% optimistic about success, up from 39%. Congress 18 Nov approved govt initiative to hold plebiscite on final text of peace agreement; FARC 10 Nov noted preference for referendum, which requires points of eventual agreement to be approved individually. Senate legislators 3 Nov rejected law guaranteeing FARC’s political participation post-conflict; FARC negotiators expressed discomfort despite Santos’ assurances to “revive” law. Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez expressed support for proposed review of pardons and amnesties granted to M-19 guerrilla fighters involved in 1985 Palace of Justice siege, raising uncertainty about long-term validity of any agreement negotiated in Havana. Former Presidents Andres Pastrana and Alvaro Uribe publicly accused FARC of maintaining links to transnational crime organisations and drug trade, citing 4 Nov report by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Armed forces 2 Nov carried out first-ever bombing raid against New Illegal Armed Group (NIAG), killing twelve members of Los Urabeños (aka Clan Usuga) in Choco province.

Venezuela

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Govt 5 Oct announced decision to bring forward appointment of thirteen Supreme Court justices whose terms do not expire until late 2016: observers cite attempt to avoid their appointment by opposition-dominated National Assembly, in apparent sign govt fears losing its parliamentary majority in 6 Dec legislative elections. President Maduro 6 Oct warned “revolution [would] change its nature” if govt loses elections. Opposition leaders refused to sign election pact proposed by ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) 15 Oct under which all parties agree to abide by legislative election results; pact endorsed by National Electoral Council (CNE) and signed by ruling parties and allies. Opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance proposed its own text, emphasising need for international election observation and ban on use of state resources for campaigns. Secretary General of Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) 5 Oct announced 50-member delegation would “accompany” election process; Brazil’s electoral authority 20 Oct withdrew from observation mission, citing failure of negotiations with CNE over terms to allow “objective, impartial and broad” observation of elections. Tense pre-election climate compounded by 15 Oct return and immediate arrest for alleged corruption of former opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales after six years in exile; Rosales called on supporters to protest arrest by voting in 6 Dec elections. Editor of independent daily El Nacional 13 Oct said he would remain outside country after he was ordered to be taken to court by force in connection with libel case brought by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello in April.

Mexico

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) 2 Oct called for appointment of special prosecutor to take over missing students case; said case reflected “pattern of human rights violations”. UN rights chief Zeid 7 Oct highlighted widespread impunity in country, urged govt to take urgent action to investigate rights violations. Govt 20 Oct reached agreement with IACHR experts to extend their mandate and expand cooperation: case to be transferred to new team of prosecutors in human rights office who will cooperate with experts on planning investigation and opening new lines of inquiry. Govt also promised to coordinate with experts on new forensic study of dump where students’ bodies were allegedly incinerated. Escaped prisoner Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán reportedly narrowly escaped marines during 6-9 Oct manhunt on border between Durango and Sinaloa states; hundreds of residents reportedly fled military operations; authorities deny human rights violations. Prosecutors charged nine people for aiding Guzmán’s July escape from prison, including pilot who allegedly flew him to his home state Sinaloa, and defence lawyer accused of planning scheme.

Haiti

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

First round of presidential and second round of parliamentary elections held 25 Oct; some 15,000 police and MINUSTAH troops deployed for security. Opposition leaders René Civil and André Michel 22 Oct called for election boycott and annulment of 9 Aug parliamentary elections. Despite some reported incidents of violence and observers’ mounting concerns over instability prior to vote, election officials noted polls relatively peaceful, appealed for patience as votes are counted; final results expected mid-Nov. Head of OAS observer mission Celso Amorim expressed optimism concerning relatively high voter turnout of 30% and peaceful conditions. Coalition of civil society organisations 27 Oct reported systematic fraud and irregularities at polling stations. UN forces reported some 224 people arrested on charges of violence and suspicion of voter fraud, including one candidate of lower Chamber of Deputies and two Haitian National Police officers; no election-related fatalities reported. Fewer reports of voter centres vandalised and security issues than in 9 Aug parliamentary polls.

Guatemala

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Second round of presidential elections held 25 Oct: comedian Jimmy Morales of National Convergence Front (FCN) won with 67.44% of vote, defeating former First Lady Sandra Torres of National Unity of Hope (UNE). Second round held in eleven of 338 municipalities following violence or destruction during Sept first round. Worst case of election-related violence reported 11 Oct when mob lynched re-elected mayor of Concepción, Sololá, accused of ordering attack on defeated candidate that left two children dead. Former President Otto Pérez Molina, imprisoned on fraud charges following Sept resignation, 15 Oct said his rights had been violated and accused International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) of political persecution; asked Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to send mission to investigate what he called violation of national sovereignty. 50 businessmen linked to “La Linea” corruption scandal barred from leaving country 15 Oct. Appeals court 8 Oct ruled former dictator Efrain Ríos Montt could not avoid charges of genocide and other international crimes under 1986 amnesty decree; retrial scheduled for Jan 2016.

Colombia

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
Govt-FARC peace talks progressed further, as parties 18 Oct struck deal to address plight of tens of thousands of victims of enforced disappearances: parties committed to immediately implementing humanitarian measures for search, location and dignified handover of disappeared; deal calls for establishment of high level search unit once final peace agreement has been signed. Deal followed “mini-crisis” in Havana triggered by differing interpretations over last month’s transitional justice agreement; parties 9 Oct agreed to recall group of lawyers who drafted initial agreement to iron out differences. Former President Andrés Pastrana 15 Oct resigned from high-level peace advisory commission established March 2015 by President Santos over disagreement with transitional justice agreement. FARC 6 Oct began publishing its “minimal proposals” for “end of the conflict” agenda point. Santos 29 Oct announced he will “immediately” ask UN for mandate to deploy mission-supported verification of bilateral ceasefire to enter into force possibly as soon as Dec. High level business representatives 19 October met Santos to express both support and concerns over peace process. Eastern Warfront of the National Liberation Army (ELN) 27 Oct acknowledged responsibility for 26 Oct attack in Güicán (Boyacá) that killed at least twelve members of security forces; announced intention to liberate two captured soldiers “in the next days”. Santos ordered intensified military offensive against ELN, casting doubt over hopes formal peace talks would be announced soon. Attorney general 6 Oct called on Supreme Court to initiate proceedings against former President Álvaro Uribe for alleged involvement in 1997 El Aro massacre. Special forces 1 Oct killed leader of dissident faction of Popular Liberation Army (EPL) “Megateo”. Attorney general 20 October confirmed identification of three women disappeared during the 1985 Palace of Justice siege. Local elections held 25 Oct; Santos noted elections day had been “most peaceful and less violent in decades”.

 

Venezuela

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance leader Leopoldo López, in military prison for over eighteen months, sentenced 10 Sept to fourteen years’ jail for allegedly instigating violence early 2014 when he led “La Salida” movement which mounted protests demanding President Maduro’s resignation or removal by constitutional means. President of electoral authority (CNE) Tibisay Lucena 17 Sept announced several multilateral bodies would be invited to “accompany” 6 Dec elections, including Mercosur, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) and UNASUR – all seen as aligned with Maduro govt. Lucena reiterated rejection of observers from Organization of American States (OAS) or EU. Tensions with Colombia over border closure continued (see Colombia/Venezuela). Govt continued to frame border closure and suspension of constitutional guarantees as essential to halt smuggling of vital goods across border and resolve shortages, denied closure causing economic damage; main employers’ federation 15 Sept put daily losses at some $3mn. MUD leaders reiterated allegations that restrictive border measures were govt attempt to affect outcome of 6 Dec elections, noted suspension of constitutional guarantees would be used to restrict opposition campaign and harass candidates; said govt trying to rally supporters by inciting nationalist sentiment.

Mexico

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), appointed by Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) to monitor investigation into Sept 2014 disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, issued report 6 Sept finding errors, omissions and inconsistencies in federal investigation; called on govt to pursue new lines of investigation and continue working to clarify students’ fate. Experts rejected federal prosecutors’ assertion that criminals working with local police killed and incinerated students at local dump; cited multiple flaws in investigation; also presented evidence federal military and police aware of attacks on students but failed to intervene. Federal official 14 Sept said govt would ask IACHR to extend GIEI mandate for six months; 24 Sept said govt would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate cases of disappearances throughout country, but refuses to consider all international commission prosecutors. Federal police 16 Sept captured Gildardo López, alias “El Gil”, senior member of Guerreros Unidos gang that allegedly collaborated with municipal police to kidnap students; López alleged to have ordered students’ killing and incineration.

Haiti

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Presidential campaign opened 9 Sept ahead of 25 Oct elections, amid opposition protests calling for cancellation of 9 Aug legislative elections and resignations of President Martelly and Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) President Pierre-Louis Opont. Protests followed 8 Sept withdrawal of leading opposition party Vérité from 25 Oct run-off legislative elections, citing election-related violence in Aug polls and CEP disqualifying its presidential candidate on questionable grounds. Some Vérité parliamentary candidates who qualified for run-off elections said they would still run. Most international and some domestic observers deemed first round of polls “acceptable” despite limited violence; all applauded decision to rerun first round in 25 districts where violence occurred. CEP 27 Sept announced two first round winners in senatorial elections, former Senator Youri Latortue and Jean Renel Senatus, prompting fears announcement could exacerbate political tensions and unhappiness with CEP. Patriotic Unity (INITE) opposition party 8 Sept announced withdrawal from Martelly govt ending Jan political agreement to form broad coalition govt. Migration crisis with Dominican Republic continued, with several hundred Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent reportedly deported.

Guatemala

  |  1 Oct 2015

Improved

After Congress 1 Sept lifted President Otto Pérez Molina’s immunity, allowing him to be formally investigated and prosecuted, president resigned 2 Sept under pressure over alleged involvement in massive customs fraud scheme; jailed same day to await verdict of corruption investigation. Congress 3 Sept swore in VP Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre as acting president; 16 Sept appointed former leader of Presidential Human Rights Commission Alfonso Fuentes Soria new VP. Maldonado acknowledged protesters’ demands and said he will take up political reform process. First round of general elections held 6 Sept with record historical turnout of over 70%; Jimmy Morales, television comedian running with nationalist National Convergence Front (FCN), and former First Lady Sandra Torres of National Unity of Hope (UNE) secured places in 25 Oct run-off presidential vote, defeating frontrunner Manuel Baldizón of Renewed Democratic Liberty (Líder). Reformers continued to press for changes in electoral laws and strengthening of transparency and oversight mechanisms ahead of Oct polls.

Colombia

  |  1 Oct 2015

Improved Resolution Opportunity

Govt and FARC 23 Sept reached breakthrough agreement on transitional justice, establishing special “Jurisdiction for Peace” to try those deemed responsible for most serious and representative crimes committed during conflict. President Santos and FARC leader Timochenko same day agreed final peace agreement will be signed within six months. 41st round of FARC-govt negotiations ended 17 Sept with progress on “end of the conflict” issues, including first visit to Havana of UNSG and UNASUR representatives to discuss options for monitoring and verifying future bilateral ceasefire and disarmament. FARC lead negotiator Iván Márquez 17 Sept said guerrillas ready to start discussing transition to legal political movement. Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo 15 Sept sent to Congress constitutional reform project for implementation of future peace agreement; creates Legislative Commission for Peace proportionally drawn from current Congress to accelerate formulation of necessary laws and constitutional reforms, and gives president temporary decree powers to implement final accords. Critics include former President Uribe and FARC, which warned unilateral attempts to design implementation mechanism could jeopardise peace. Chief Commander of National Liberation Army (ELN) Gabino 9 Sept said exploratory talks with govt nearly complete amid continuing ELN violence; including early-Sept forced displacement of over 200 members of indigenous Embera communities in Carmen de Atrato, Chocó. President Santos 22 Sept launched new counter-drug strategy, emphasising voluntary coca crop substitution and social investment. Army commander General Alberto José Mejía 25 Sept announced complete revision of military doctrine. Tensions with Venezuela over border closure continued (see Colombia/Venezuela).

 

Mexico

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

President Peña Nieto 27 Aug reshuffled cabinet, replacing six ministers, including national security commissioner. Midway through his six-year term, President’s approval ratings continued to drop as govt grapples with stagnating economy, conflict of interest scandals and high rates of regional violence. Interdisciplinary Group of Experts (GIEI), appointed by govt and Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) to monitor Sept 2014 disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, 17 Aug said govt denied its request to interview military personnel; also noted mishandling and destruction of evidence. Federal judge 18 Aug sentenced army second lieutenant to over 30 years’ prison for a forced disappearance, marking first time a military official has been sentenced for this crime. Prosecutors 6 Aug charged suspect for 31 July killing of photojournalist Rubén Espinosa in Mexico City. Investigators in case facing criticism for allegedly dismissing political motivation for murder; 500 journalists, writers and advocates 15 Aug sent open letter to President Peña Nieto demanding thorough investigation into Espinosa’s death. Police data showed 2015 increase in homicide rate in Guerrero state, with highest murder rate in 2014: 943 murders reported in first half of 2015, compared to 780 in first half of 2014.

Haiti

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Parliamentary elections held 9 Aug, OAS election observers next day noted violent incidents and other disruptions but endorsed legitimacy of vote; voter turnout estimated at 18%.Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) 20 Aug announced run-off to be held 25 Oct in 25 constituencies where less than 70% of tally sheets arrived at voter tabulation centre; listed series of corrective measures to prevent violence in run-off polls including extending campaign period. CEP mid-Aug banned some sixteen candidates for election-related violence or disturbances. Dominican Republic 15 Aug resumed deportations to Haiti of Dominicans of Haitian descent following temporary suspension to allow migrants to obtain proper documentation; tens of thousands of Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans have reportedly fled since 17 June residency application deadline, settling in makeshift camps in Haiti.

Colombia

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

40th round of FARC-govt negotiations ended 30 Aug amid optimism. Sub-Commission on gender 24-25 Aug received representatives from ten women’s organisations; joint humanitarian demining pilot in Briceño, Antioquia department resumed 31 Aug. FARC 20 Aug extended month-long unilateral ceasefire indefinitely. 39th round had ended 2 Aug with seventeen new FARC members switching with counterparts to join talks, including several commanders of regional fronts. New legal advisory teams named by both parties joined talks to support discussions on transitional justice. UNSG Ban 13 Aug appointed former head of UN mission in Guatemala Jean Arnault as his delegate to Sub-Commission on End of Conflict Issues. President Santos 12 Aug suggested creation of “mini-congress” consisting of lawmakers from both chambers and FARC members to implement future peace accords; guerrillas 26 Aug rejected proposal as “unilateral”. FARC 24 Aug admitted its Daniel Aldana mobile column responsible for 3 Aug murder of Afro Colombian leader in Tumaco (Nariño). ELN commander Gabino 24 Aug confirmed progress in exploratory talks with govt but said no date has been set for start of formal negotiations. Press rumours 16 Aug suggested security forces had killed Megateo, regional leader of dissident faction of Popular Liberation Army (EPL). “We are Defenders” right group released report 19 Aug showing 105% increase in violence against human rights defenders in first semester of 2015 compared to same period last year. Tensions with Venezuela spiked amid serious border crisis (see Colombia/Venezuela).

Guatemala

  |  1 Sep 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Escalating political tensions as prosecutors 20 Aug named President Pérez Molina and former VP Roxana Baldetti leaders of customs fraud scandal. Baldetti arrested 21 Aug; head of International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) Ivan Velásquez and Prosecutor General Thelma Aldana 20 Aug requested pretrial hearing on lifting of president’s immunity. Powerful business association CACIF, former ally of president, called for his immediate resignation 21 Aug. Eighteen high-level govt officers including eight ministers resigned in ensuing days. 100,000 protested 27 Aug demanding president’s resignation; hundreds of businesses and organisations closed. Congress 27 Aug named special commission tasked with assessing request to lift president's immunity. President reiterated intent to complete full term in office; more protests are expected ahead of planned 6 Sept elections. Supreme Electoral Tribunal 10 Aug charged leading opposition party Líder with exceeding campaign expenditure limits; party 14 Aug rejected decision, argued internal audits showed campaign complied with financing regulations; challenge hinders electoral reform efforts ahead of polls. Anti-corruption campaign supporters continued weekly demonstrations supporting CICIG and calling for president’s resignation.

Venezuela

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Amid worsening economic crisis and scarcity of basic goods, incidents of looting reported early Aug in Bolívar and Zulia states. President Maduro and Bolívar state governor early Aug alleged U.S. agents and opposition provoked 31 July supermarket looting in San Félix, in which one person died and dozens were arrested. Four food trucks looted and town hall sacked 4 Aug in Sinamaica, Zulia state. Former opposition mayor of San Cristóbal Daniel Ceballos given house arrest on “medical grounds” 12 Aug while former defence minister Gen. Raul Isaías Baduel and anti-govt protester Deivis Oliveros released from jail 13 Aug, all three banned from speaking in public or talking to press. Polls released in Aug suggest substantial opposition lead ahead of Dec parliamentary elections. Maduro 18 Aug used his TV program to present video in which self-confessed murderer accused senior opposition leaders and foreign adversaries of providing money and “paramilitary training” for campaign of violence. Tensions with Colombia spiked amid serious border crisis (see Colombia/Venezuela); opposition MUD alliance said alleged incident, in which three Venezuelan soldiers were killed by alleged “paramilitaries”, was pretext for govt to declare nationwide state of emergency in response to possible opposition victory in Dec elections.

Mexico

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Powerful drug trafficker Joaquín Guzmán, alias “El Chapo” escaped from federal maximum-security prison 11 July; prison director fired, federal court opened proceedings on three prison employees charged with aiding escape. Rights activists 2 July said army issued orders to “take down” presumed criminals in night-time operations; allegation raised further questions about June 2014 shooting of 22 suspected kidnappers in Tlatlaya municipality, Mexico state. International groups of experts appointed by Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, investigating Sept 2014 disappearance of 43 students, faulted govt for failing to provide access to military officers stationed in city of Iguala at time of abductions for investigation into disappearances. Attorney general’s office 26 July confirmed 129 bodies found in over sixty clandestine graves in Guerrero state following investigation into students’ disappearance.

Haiti

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) 9 July officially opened campaign for 25 Oct presidential elections and possible 27 Dec run-off. CEP president attended donor conference in New York mid-July seeking to fill $26mn funding gap for polls. Slow pace of recruitment for poll workers and scepticism over police capacity to tackle electoral violence continued to fuel mistrust among population, doubts among international partners. Organisation of American States 9 July sent special mission to Dominican Republic and Haiti to gather information on situation of Haitian migrants amid deportation crisis.

Guatemala

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Congressional committee 3 July recommended congress lift President Perez Molina’s immunity to allow prosecutors to investigate corruption links amid ongoing govt corruption scandal. Authorities 9 July arrested president’s son-in-law and former secretary Gustavo Martinez on charges of influence trafficking; former energy Minister Edwin Ramón Rodas Solares and several others charged same day. Members of congress and political candidates also caught up in corruption investigations, including Lider party’s VP candidate Edgar Barquin, under investigation for money laundering and illegal campaign financing; accusations could disqualify Lider presidential candidate Manuel Baldizón, frontrunner in Sept elections. International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) 16 July presented report on illegal funding of political parties, examining near total impunity for electoral crimes, including illicit funding by private interests and organised crime; activists renewed calls to postpone elections so changes to electoral laws can be passed and implemented. Official medical report 7 July determined former dictator Efrain Ríos Montt, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, unfit for trial, which may imply cancellation of trial.

Colombia

  |  3 Aug 2015

Improved

Peace process re-emerged from deepest crisis yet with new temporary, unilateral FARC ceasefire starting 20 July; govt responded 25 July suspending bombardments on guerrilla camps. Came after 12 July joint announcement to accelerate confidence building measures and speed up talks by shifting work to parallel working groups; also agreed to invite representatives from UNSG and UNASUR presidency to join technical discussions on bilateral ceasefire and FARC disarmament. Compliance with commitments to be reviewed after four months, when President Santos will decide if talks continue. In another positive step, FARC 19 July released army lieutenant Cristian Moscoso, held since 7 July. Joint humanitarian demining program temporarily suspended following 15 July accident killing military deminer. Santos 6 July announced new military commanders: Alberto Mejía (army), Carlos Bueno (air force) and Leonardo Santamaría (navy). Talks with ELN continue to move slowly: Commander Gabino’s 4 July message stating group ready to negotiate disarmament failed to generate positive public dynamic amid accusations ELN was behind two small bomb attacks 2 July in Bogotá; in reaction, authorities detained thirteen social leaders alleged to be members of ELN urban cell, triggering accusations of criminalising social movements. UNODC 2 July reported 44% increase in coca cultivation in 2014, and 52% hike in potential cocaine production. Attorney general’s office 27 July began exhumation work at Medellín rubbish dump thought to be one the world’s largest mass graves. Former paramilitary leader El Alemán released 30 July after completing maximum eight year prison term stipulated under 2005 Justice and Peace law.

Venezuela

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Ahead of elections scheduled for 6 Dec comptroller general’s office mid-July banned prospective opposition alliance MUD parliamentary candidates Maria Corina Machado, Enzo Scarano and Daniel Ceballos from holding public office for one year. Administrative decision based on alleged irregularities in their respective declarations of assets but widely seen as bid to block popular MUD figures from competing. Economic crisis worsened, with black market dollar surpassing Bs.600, 100 times official rate; with supplies of imported wheat running out, bread shortage taking hold; supermarkets looted 31 July in Ciudad Guayana, one person reported killed. Govt mid-July moved against heavily armed criminal gangs in Caracas and some rural areas: some 200 police and National Guard 13 July stormed Caracas stronghold known as Cota 905, killing fifteen and detaining 100. Relations between govt and neighbouring Guyana worsened over Essequibo territorial dispute; Guyanese authorities 14 July rejected longstanding UN “good offices” mechanism, seeking to take matter to International Court in The Hague.

Mexico

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Mid-term elections 7 June saw President Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) maintain control of lower house along with Green Party allies. Independent candidate won a campaign for governor for the first time with victory of Jaime Rodriguez, “El Bronco”, in Nuevo Leon. Over twenty killed, including at least four candidates, in campaign-related violence, particularly acute in Guerrero state, where demonstrators burned ballots in two municipalities prior to vote, and one student was shot dead in Tlapa town on election day. Human rights groups 16 June reported that armed men attacked over 100 migrants late-May in Sonora state near U.S. border; at least thirteen escaped, others remain missing, authorities 2 June reportedly discovered three bodies. Rights groups 18 June denounced another attack on Central American migrants in southern state Veracruz; over 40 escaped, including one who had been shot.

Haiti

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Electoral Council (CEP) 12 June released final list of parliamentary and presidential candidates: 56 candidates running for president, over 1,700 candidates for legislative elections; high level politicians including former PM Laurent Lamothe and former FM Pierre Duly Brutus excluded from list. Organization of American States to send electoral observation mission. Insecurity reportedly increased in anticipation of elections, with violent unrest reported in several neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince 4, 5 June. Continued fears of massive deportations from Dominican Republic as country’s program to legalise Haitian immigrants ended 17 June; Dominican interior minister stated half of 500,000 Haitians living illegally in Dominican Republic had started residency application process, only some 10,000 met requirements. PM Evans Paul 26 June warned Dominican Republic is creating humanitarian crisis, noting some 14,000 Haitians crossed back into Haiti in less than a week.

Guatemala

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Amid widening corruption scandal, and continued protests calling for President Perez Molina to resign, Supreme Court 10 June ruled Congress could open investigation to determine whether president should be stripped of immunity and face impeachment; Constitutional Court 30 June denied president immunity from prosecution. President 18 June reiterated refusal to resign, called accusations political, spurious. Constitutional Court same day suspended congressional investigation into possible stripping president’s immunity following petition by lawyer close to Perez Molina questioning legitimacy of congressional investigation; said insufficient evidence to warrant congressional inquiry. Prosecutors 18 June requested Supreme Court lift immunity of two opposition presidential candidates for Sept elections, Sandra Torres and Manuel Baldizón, over vote-buying allegations. High Risk Court 11 June rescheduled retrial of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt – whose May 2013 conviction on charges of genocide and war crimes was overturned – to 23 July. Ríos Montt’s lead Attorney Francisco Palomo killed 2 June by gunman in Guatemala City.

Colombia

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Govt and FARC negotiators 4 June reached first partial agreement on transitional justice, defines “Commission for the clarification of truth, co-existence and non-repetition” as independent, impartial and extrajudicial mechanism; negotiations to continue 3 July amid growing expectations that a separate agreement on reparations could be announced soon. Increase in violence that followed 22 May collapse of FARC’s unilateral ceasefire continued, representing worst escalation in years; clashes and spike in guerrilla attacks on oil and energy infrastructure caused significant environmental damage and large humanitarian impact, including mass displacements, power cuts and mobility restrictions; South and SW regions most affected. Killing of two police in Nariño 12 June sparked outrage. Security forces reportedly “neutralised” 278 guerrilla members between 21 May and 17 June. Post-conflict Minister Óscar Naranjo reportedly stepped down 17 June over frustrations with job. New Defence Minister Luis Carlos Villegas took office 22 June, swapping positions with Juan Carlos Pinzón who will take over as ambassador to U.S. Army 14 June confirmed death of Marcos, highest ranking ELN leader killed in combat in recent years. Peace commissioner Sergio Jaramillo 11 June repeated govt remains open to talks with ELN if guerrillas accept disarming after agreement is reached. ELN 29 June took responsibility for 22 June attack on Black Hawk helicopter in Teorama (Norte de Santander) which killed at least four soldiers. Attorney general 23 June summoned four retired generals, including a former army commander, to respond to allegations of involvement in extrajudicial executions.

Venezuela

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

National Electoral Council 22 June announced congressional elections to be held 6 Dec. Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López ended month-long hunger strike next day; demands had included establishment of election date. Jailed opposition mayor Daniel Ceballos ended hunger strike 11 June for health reasons. Plight of political prisoners drew international condemnation and visits by foreign politicians including in June former Spanish PM and delegation of Brazilian senators urging their release and free elections; govt dismissed them as enemies of Venezuela, prevented them visiting political prisoners. Economic crisis continued to deepen: govt 11 June reportedly withdrew another $1.5bn from fund with IMF. Relations with Guyana and Colombia worsened after President Maduro 27 May issued decrees setting up offshore defence zones in disputed areas. U.S. Asst Sec State Thomas Shannon and President of National Assembly Diosdado Cabello met in Haiti 13 June for meeting apparently aimed at reducing bilateral tensions.

Mexico

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Defence minister 1 May initiated “Operation Jalisco” mobilising 6,000 military forces, federal police and prosecutors in fight against Jalisco Cartel-New Generation. Cartel same day launched series of coordinated attacks, setting fire to banks and petrol stations, using flaming cars and buses as roadblocks at over 30 locations. National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido 2 May reported several soldiers killed when Jalisco Cartel-New Generation gunmen shot down army helicopter with rocket-propelled grenade. Cartel also reportedly launched attacks in neighbouring Michoacan, Guanajuato and Colima states. Federal police 22 May killed 42 presumed cartel members on ranch in Michoacán near border with Jalisco, following what authorities described as three-hour gun battle; one police officer killed. Govt human rights commission 26 May said it had launched inquiry, amid questioning from analysts and relatives of dead over lopsided death toll. Authorities 27 May arrested senior Jalisco Cartel-New Generation operative Victor Manuel Garcia Orozco. Campaigning continued ahead of 7 June elections to choose 500 federal deputies, seventeen state legislatures, nine governors and over 300 mayors; three candidates killed during month in Michoacán, Tabasco and Guerrero states.

Haiti

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Electoral Provisional Council (CEP) 20 May announced some 70 candidates had filed to run in long-delayed Oct presidential elections, including last-minute submission by Laurent Lamothe, former PM and close ally of President Martelly. Amid CEP review of candidate qualifications, controversy surrounding Lamothe and other former government officials unable to obtain parliamentary “clean bill of health” audit report; Lamothe denied allegations of mismanagement of funds while minister of planning/FM. CEP 15 May announced 1,517 candidates for Aug Chamber of Deputies and Senate elections; First Lady Sophia Martelly’s candidacy denied 13 May partly due to lack of audit report and partly allegation she voted in previous election despite being a dual citizen, prohibited under Haitian law. UNSG 14 May proposed 22% cut to MINUSTAH’s budget; along with restructuring of MINUSTAH, raises concerns sharp cuts in number of peacekeepers before elections could yield potential security vacuum jeopardizing polls. Massive wave of deportation of Haitian illegal immigrants continued: Bahamas late April announced plan to deport 290 Haitians; Dominican Republic denied extension of program to legalise Haitian migrants.

Guatemala

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

President Pérez Molina 21 May purged cabinet amid corruption scandals and nationwide protests demanding end to corruption. Intelligence chief, energy and environment ministers and deputy interior minister were removed, interior minister resigned. Despite changes pressure on president mounted: president of national bar association 25 May joined civil society leaders calling for his resignation. UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CIGIC) and attorney general’s office struck another blow against criminal organisations within state with 20 May arrest of sixteen high-level officials of Guatemalan Institute for Social Security for allegedly carrying out fraudulent contracts; includes central bank chief and head of social security agency. VP Roxanna Baldetti resigned 8 May following mid-April corruption scandal unveiled by CIGIC involving her private secretary; attorney general’s office secured judicial order prohibiting her from leaving country. Constitutional judge Alejandro Maldonado named new VP.

Colombia

  |  1 Jun 2015

Deteriorated

37th round of negotiations between govt and FARC continued amid most serious crisis yet triggered by 22 May suspension of FARC’s five-month-old unilateral ceasefire. Suspension followed 21 May govt air raid in Guapi (Cauca) that left at least 26 guerrillas dead, including one former member of FARC’s negotiating team; attack also displaced some 400 inhabitants. Violence accelerated with military operations in Antioquia and Chocó; leader of 18th FARC front killed in latter. FARC bombing 24 May in Tumaco (Nariño) left one police officer dead, two wounded. Guarantor countries Cuba and Norway 27 May called on parties to continue negotiations on remaining agenda items, including definitive bilateral ceasefire. Delegations informed 29 May about progress in implementing joint humanitarian demining pilot in Briceño (Antioquia). Earlier, in sign of continued commitment to peace process, President Santos 20 May named FM María Ángela Holguin and well-connected businessman Gonzalo Restrepo to negotiating team. Long-expected position swap between Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón and Colombian ambassador to U.S. Juan Carlos Villegas officially announced 19 May. Govt peace commissioner Sergio Jaramillo 13 May confirmed Santos consulted U.S. about Simón Trinidad, high ranking FARC leader serving 60-year sentence in U.S., joining talks. Santos 11 May confirmed he authorised late-April meeting in Havana between ELN leader Gabino and FARC leader Timochenko. ELN Central Command 17 May rejected responsibility for landmine incident in Convención (Norte de Santander), offered localised ELN ceasefire to facilitate enquiry. National Drug Council 14 May endorsed Health Ministry recommendation to suspend controversial aerial coca spraying program.

Venezuela

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Foreign reserves at lowest level since 2003 as scarcity of basic goods, including medicines, continued to rise. With organised crime thriving, some 2,000 police and National Guard (GNB) troops deployed 14 May to take back Maracay district from criminals; official reports claim three criminals killed in six-hour battle, 200 arrested; unofficial reports claimed at least ten deaths. Opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance 17 May held primary elections in 37 of country’s 81 electoral districts to determine unity candidates for parliamentary elections planned for late 2015; over half a million voted, with Primero Justicia winning most votes. Electoral authority’s (CNE) decision not to use manual voting logs in election raised concerns it might do same in parliamentary elections, making it hard to detect fake votes. Court 13 May banned 22 media owners and editors from leaving country pending trial for defamation after National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello filed libel suit 21 April against media reports alleging U.S. prosecutors were investigating him for ties to drug gangs. Wall Street Journal 18 May reported U.S. prosecutors and drug enforcement officers pursuing trafficking cases against several high-ranking Venezuelans, including Cabello.

Mexico

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Cartel-related violence increased in Jalisco state: fifteen state police officers killed 6 April when convoy attacked by members of Jalisco Cartel, New Generation; gunmen same day murdered municipal police chief in Zacoalco de Torres. Security forces 17 April captured José Tiburcio Hernández Fuentes, alias “El Gafe”, leader of Gulf Cartel in border city Reynosa; federal authorities same day announced arrest of Jesús Salas Aguayo, alias “El Chuyín”, leader of Jáarez Cartel in northern Chihuahua state. Investigative journalist report published 18 April alleged police killed 16 during Jan protest by former vigilantes demanding payment from govt for incorporation into Rural Police force in Apatzingán town, Michoacán state. Congress 21 April approved new National Anticorruption System, designed to give greater authority to investigative bodies against diversion of public funds; opposition criticised law for failing to assure new entity’s independence.

Haiti

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) 1 April published list of 126 political parties registered to contest long-overdue elections. FM Duly Brutus 6 April submitted resignation letter to present himself as candidate in 25 Oct presidential election. Election officials 23 April stated some 2,000 candidates registered for 119 seats in Chamber of Deputies and twenty open Senate seats. Concerns persisted over increase in violence ahead of elections: protest over delayed electrification program sparked violence 14 April in border city Ouanaminthe as armed protesters assaulted Dominican truck drivers and police officers, shot dead Chilean UN soldier. Tensions continued with Dominican Republic on issue of Haitian migration: Dominican govt tightened immigration policy, persisting with deportation of undocumented migrants and children of unauthorised citizens. Dominicans in Moca 10 April attacked Haitian camp, forcing some 300 to flee.

Guatemala

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Thousands demonstrated 25 April in Guatemala City’s Plaza Mayor demanding end to corruption; many called on president and VP to resign. President Pérez Molina 23 April asked UN for two-year extension of Commission Against Impunity (CICIG); decision came as president struggled to manage political crisis sparked by CICIG investigation into massive customs fraud allegedly perpetrated by tax officials and orchestrated by VP’s private secretary. Authorities 16 April arrested 21 people, including current and former heads of tax authority; VP’s secretary still fugitive. Revelations galvanised support for CICIG across political spectrum. Official presidential candidate Alejandro Sinibaldi 19 April left ruling party, citing corruption scandal, called for creation of national coalition. Activist opposed to silver mining project in Santa Rosa department murdered 5 April by armed men, fourth mining opponent killed in 2015.

Colombia

  |  30 Apr 2015

Deteriorated

36th round of Govt-FARC negotiations began 28 April amid high political tensions following 14 April FARC ambush in Buenes Aires, Cauca region, which killed eleven soldiers and wounded twenty; two FARC members also killed. President Santos 15 April declared attack violation of group’s Dec 2014 unilateral ceasefire, announced resumption of airstrikes days after renewal of March decision to temporarily suspend bombings. FARC 16 April said incident was “legitimate reaction” to continued counter-insurgent operation. Attack had no discernible immediate impact on ongoing negotiations: 35th cycle concluded as planned 20 April, with FARC reporting significant progress on detailed protocol for implementation of early-March joint humanitarian demining initiative. However attack raised risks of new military escalation and triggered political backlash. In 17 April speech, Santos suggested being open to calls to impose deadline on peace process, widely perceived to be stalling. FARC 20 April weakened conditions for abstaining from violence, from not being attacked, to not being “permanently harassed” by military, tried to argue “offensive actions” can be part of its “legitimate defence”. Santos administration 14 April substantially modified its proposal on controversial military justice reform to appease criticism from human rights groups who argued original proposal could lead to impunity for serious international crimes. Interior Minister Cristo 21 April denied plans to seek referendum on peace process in Oct local elections. ELN leader Gabino 24 April said during interview 80% of future negotiation agenda has been agreed on, but doubts about swift opening of formal negotiations persist. Health minister 27 April recommended suspending controversial aerial spraying of coca crops; fumigations continue, pending final presidential decision.

Venezuela

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

On eve of 10-11 April Summit of the Americas, group of 25 former-Ibero-American heads of state, led by former Spanish PM Aznar, 9 April issued statement deploring deepening social, economic and political crisis in Venezuela, called for restoration of democracy, human rights and rule of law. Resolutions in similar vein from Chilean and Colombian senates mid-April; Brazilian President Roussef critical of Maduro during 9 April interview. Spanish lawmakers 14 April called on Venezuela to release jailed opposition leaders. Maduro 10 April claimed some 13 million signatures collected in support of revocation of U.S. President Obama’s 9 March executive decree imposing sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials and declaring Venezuela “exceptional threat” to U.S. national security; rights groups allege many signatures obtained under duress. Criticism from opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) intensified after National Electoral Council 15 April announced redistribution of parliamentary seats based on population estimates, effectively stripping seats from opposition-dominated districts.

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CrisisWatch N°150

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